Microsoft Flight Simulator (Review)

Flight Simulator is one of those games that focuses so much on realism that people will turn around and accuse it of not even being a videogame.  But you all know I’m an open-minded person, and this is my first time playing a Flight Simulator entry even though I’ve long known of its existence.  Did I learn a thing or two about flying, or was this just for pilot hopefuls and rejects?


GAMEPLAY

…the more time you spend traveling Earth, the more you’re humbled out.

You’ll think at first, “so all you do is fly around?”.  You’d be right, but that’s after you go through what I admit is some very well-done training.  It’s a good mix of forgiving and difficult, and I emphasize that you should absolutely go through the training: it gives you some respect for just how much more there is to it than you likely realized.  Unfortunately, this includes a very unintuitive and rather difficult to navigate user interface.  Don’t get me wrong, it all has to be there, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself struggling to juggle the plane, the menus, and the dumb “smart” camera all at once.  But once you’ve gotten through it, though, it’s the-skies-the-limit!  And I therein lies the most literal meaning of the saying brought to life by a digital videogame.  You.  Can.  Go.  Anywhere.  You.  Want.  The game is quite literally a massive satellite image of Earth.  You can even change the time of day and the weather for more intensity and simulator-ness.  Or don’t, and just enjoy the sights and sounds.  This led me to the one thing no other game can give me: perspective.  In the hours I spent in the air, I looked down at the ground and was reminded just how small I am on this planet.  All our fighting, all our bickering, everything we think we’re worth means absolutely nothing when in the grand scheme of things, you’re smaller than an ant.  In summary, the more time you spend traveling Earth, the more you’re humbled out.  The best part about everything I just said?  The game runs like an MMO which means you can get humbled out with your friends.


CONTENT

There is no specific content range…

This is one of those tough spots.  In short, though, the game has as much content as you find Earth interesting.  You may only have a few spots you want to see, or maybe you want to see it all.  The game might last you 5 hours, or it might last you 500 hours.  There is no specific content range here because, well, it’s Earth at your fingertips.  Lastly, I want to address that this game has a marketplace and that many don’t realize that content here is often developed by contractors and third parties to help “build Earth”.  This is less “paid DLC” in terms of the devs/Microsoft and more “getting paid” to continue fleshing out digital Earth, though the devs themselves have already put in free world updates.


PRESENTATION

…there is a level of detail and realism that cannot be touched or matched…

You might have caught me just say that this is Earth built from satellite imagery.  This comes with both a good and a bad.  First: the good is that you can go high enough to digitally prove flat-Earthers are morons.  It really IS all of Earth, and you can see it as much as you want which includes a shocking surprise: the constellations are also built from observatory imagery.  Yes, you can find both Orion and The Big Dipper, among others!  This can be absolutely awe-inspiring in which I cannot use words to describe how impressed I was at even finding where I live… until it gets to the bad part.  I found that in the most detailed places, the internet streaming of assets caused significant stuttering as data is being swapped out.  Sure, it looks great, but not when it’s hitching so much trying to stream in far more detailed satellite data to preserve my storage space.  And the more my flight skills beckoned increasingly courageous maneuvers, the more this became prevalent.  Part of this is a reality I’m ready to admit: the amount of internal screaming and heart attacks people would have seeing a plane fly so close is why it’s unimportant for the game to look or run well that close.  I’m NOT supposed to be doing that, and the game runs beautifully when I respect the rules of air space.  And if I further respect the simulation the devs have created, I admit there is a level of detail and realism that cannot be touched or matched by anything else.  If you have even a passing interest in being a pilot, there’s literally zero reason for you not to play this game.


CONCLUSION

This game is humbling.

This game is humbling.  When you recognize the level of realism, the scale of Earth, how tiny your existence is from the air, and combine it with genuine understanding of piloting aircraft, you get an experience that is completely one of its own and unmatched in any way by anything else.  However, a very difficult to manage UI combined with a finnicky smart cam that has a mind of its own, and some serious framerate/hiccupping issues can test your patience.  But I remain firm on saying it once again: the more time you spend traveling Earth, the more you’re humbled out.

I give Flight Simulator

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